Before His ascension, Jesus told His apostles, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). While these words were meant for the whole Church, the apostles were the first to embrace them. They traveled, sometimes great distances, to preach the Gospel. All but one of the apostles were martyred for their belief in Christ and proclaiming Him to others.
With that, let us look at what the apostles did after Pentecost:
St. Peter: Our first pope’s early leadership of the Church is well-documented in the Acts of the Apostles. Peter eventually left Jerusalem for Antioch and Corinth, finally arriving in Rome. There, he was martyred by being crucified upside down by the Emperor Nero in 64 AD.
St. Andrew: The interaction in John 12:20 and following verses points to his later mission. Andrew journeyed to the area near present-day Istanbul, where he preached to the Greek people. He is said to have been martyred on an X shaped cross.
St. James the Greater: St. James was the first apostle martyred. Popularly, he’s known to have preached in present-day Spain. We know from Scripture that he was martyred in the Holy Land in 44 AD (Acts 12:1-2).
St. James the Lesser: The other James is known as the author of the Letter of James. Without a Roman Procurator in Galilee, the high priest Ananus had James stoned in 62 AD.
St. John: Sometime after Mary’s assumption, he was arrested and exiled to Patmos, an island off the coast of Asia Minor. There, he wrote the Book of Revelation. After being released, he died in Ephesus around 100 AD. He was the only apostle not to be martyred.
St. Matthew: The tax collector turned apostle and evangelist has passed into legend. Most of the legends say that after preaching to the Jews for 15 years in the Holy Land, he went east to the area of Syria and present-day Iran. We believe he was martyred, but how and where is disputed.
St. Philip: Called by Christ at the beginning of St. John’s Gospel, we know little about him beyond the Gospels. Tradition tells us he preached in Greece and was crucified upside down sometime in the first century.
St. Thomas: “Doubting” Thomas traveled, preaching as he went, through Syria, Iran, eventually reaching Western India. Legend tells us he was martyred by a king for converting his wife and son to Christianity. Thomas was stabbed to death with spears.
St. Bartholomew: Famous for doubting anything good could come from Nazareth, he, like St. Thomas, went to India and Armenia, where he was flayed and beheaded.
Sts. Simon and Jude: Tradition puts these two apostles as preaching together and possibly being martyred together in present-day Iran.
St. Matthias: Chosen to fill the place of Judas Iscariot, only vague, contradictory legends remain to tell us his story. We can only say for certain he was martyred.
This column appeared in a previous edition of the Review.
Father Mayo is pastor of St. Raphael Parish in south St. Louis.